Welcome contractors!


Pre-License Info

Pre-license Information for Applicants

Pre-License Checklist

1.  Purchase study materials and start studying now.

CSLB application times vary, but it’s not uncommon for some students to receive a notice to appear for examination within 3 to 4 weeks. This may not be enough time to fully study all the materials for both the law and trade exams. Don’t get caught off guard, buy the study materials first and study now.

It may be a good idea to read over the study materials for the law exam first, and once you have a good understanding of the material, submit your application to the State Board. While you wait for a response, you can then study for the trade exam. Students who take their time to understand the underlying principles in each topic are usually those that pass the exam in one try.

2. Gather your work experience documentation.

According to the CSLB, you must have at least 4 years of experience to qualify to take the exam. Credit for experience is only given for experience gained at a journey level or as a foreman, supervisor, contractor, or owner-builder.

This experience requirement can be verified by a homeowner, fellow employee, other journeyman, contractor, union representative, building inspector, architect, or engineer. Decide who you will have verify your experience and get your documents in order. Expect to include proper documentation to support your claims of experience.

If you’re claiming on-the-job experience, have your W2 or 1099 forms ready.

If you’re claiming experience gained on your own, have letters of support from previous clients and invoices, permits, and material receipts ready.

If you’re having someone like a contractor sign for you, make sure you have their contact information as well as their contractor’s license number.

Other things to consider are the dates of experience. Make sure you have at least 4 years of experience. Go back and make sure you have the month and year you first started and work from there.

What if you don’t have the full 4 years?

The CSLB may allow you to substitute up to a maximum of 3 years of experience if you’ve received technical training, apprenticeship training, or education from an accredited college or university. At least 1 year must be practical experience. Expect to provide things like college transcripts, certificates, or diplomas.


3. Have us check your application before submitting it to the CSLB. The CSLB will mail back any application that is incomplete and filled out incorrectly. We can save you precious time by catching errors before they’re mailed out to the CSLB.


4. Pay your dues.

Log onto the CSLB’s website and check the current application fee. Then write a check in that amount, payable to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).


5. Submit your application to the CSLB.

Send your application out via certified mail. It’s always a good idea to have some sort of paper trail for tracking purposes. Sometimes we get students who are concerned about their application and why they haven’t received any notifications. If you’ve sent your application certified you can always check online to see if and when it was delivered.


6. Hone in on your studies.

Search below for your classification and download our free study guides. This succinct guide will tell you what to focus on so that you don’t waste your time and effort.


7. Stick to the program.

Read the books, go to class, and review all of our mock exams and final exams. We’ve got everything you need. Take advantage of it.


8. Wait for notification

You should receive notification from the CSLB within 3 to 4 weeks of acceptance or denial for the exam.


9. I was rejected, now what?

If your application was sent back, a letter will be included with directions on what to do next. Typically, applications are returned because of incompleteness, or errors discovered by the CSLB. Follow the given directions and resubmit the application within the given deadlines. If you do not resubmit your application within the given deadline, then your application becomes void and you must submit a brand new application with another check for the application fee.


If the CSLB has denied you on the basis of criminal convictions or due to a failure of verified experience claims, you will be given an opportunity to contest the denial by providing the necessary documentation to support your claims. Failure to disclose any conviction on your application is also condemning because your application was signed under penalty of perjury and is definitely grounds for denial. MAKE SURE YOU DISCLOSE ANY AND ALL CONVICTIONS. Regardless of the outcome, the CSLB application fee is non-refundable. This is why it’s so important to ensure an error free application that is completely truthful to the best of your knowledge.


10. I was accepted.

Great! This is the first step. Now is the time to study even harder than before. Your notice of acceptance will also include:


1.            Fingerprinting Live Scan Packet – Bring the included form to a local Live Scan operator and have your fingerprints scanned. The operator will keep 1 copy on file, and you will be given 2 copies. Keep one copy for your records, and send the second one to the CSLB. Live Scan fees vary throughout the state, but they essentially do the same thing. Although it may be tempting to go with the cheapest operator, another consideration is competency. Make sure the operator is capable and provides error free work. A rejected scan may waste more of your time than is necessary. Having a balance of the two is best.

2.            Notice to Appear for Examination – this document will inform you of the time, date, and location of the exam. You normally have 3 weeks to prepare for the exam after receiving this notice.

3.            Translator – If English is your second language and you need someone to read the exam in your native language you may request the help of a translator. Translators will have to be approved by the CSLB. Usually, persons over the age of 18 and who have no affiliation with the construction industry will be accepted. You should have requested a translator on your original application (another reason to have your application reviewed) and the CSLB will send you forms and directions to have your translator approved. Typically, translators will fill out a short form, obtain two (2) 2”x2” passport style photos, and submit all items to the CSLB for review. On the day of the exam, they will be required to bring their driver’s license for verification purposes.


11. Test Day.

On the day of the exam, you will be expected to arrive early (approximately 7:00 AM). You will check in with the receptionist at the desk so make sure you have the Notice to Appear for Examination as well as a valid I.D. If this is your first time taking the exam, you will test for the law section first in the morning and then the trade section in the afternoon. Applicants are given 2.5 hours to take each exam, although you may request additional time on the exam if you have a translator of if English is your second language. Each exam is roughly 115 questions long, entirely in multiple choice format, administered via the computer, and you are required to score a minimum of approximately 75% to pass.


12. Testing with a translator.

Your translator will accompany you on your scheduled exam date and must arrive with you when checking in with the receptionist. Make sure they bring required documents, specifically an acceptable form of I.D. (driver’s license should suffice). The administrator will walk you and your translator into the CSLB computer lab and you will be seated separately from your translator. Headphones with microphones will be given to both you and your translator so that you can communicate during the exam.


The translator is not allowed to do anything but read what is present on his computer screen. You will be in charge of moving the test along and navigating through the various questions.




If at first you don’t succeed…

Applicants are notified the very same day if they failed. The exam administrator will provide you with a printout of your scores. Use this as motivation and as guidance so that you can prepare for the sections that you had the most difficulties with. A form will also be included to allow you to reschedule another exam date. You will need to include a check payable to the CSLB for the re-examination fee, which will be listed on the form itself.


Applicants are given 18 months from the date of application acceptance by the CSLB. Applicants can retake the exam as many times as possible until they pass within the 18 months period.

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